Learning doesn’t stop when school does.
As we don our corporate outfit and polished shoes for work, we are preparing ourselves to learn all over again. It seems that the knowledge and skills we have gathered from our days of formal schooling is not enough for the real world. At work, training is not only required for new hires, but it can be initiated for a variety of reasons. For example, when a performance appraisal reveals areas for improvement or as part of a career progression plan to move the employee up the ladder. Training in the workplace has come a long way, from storytelling sessions, to master-apprenticeships, formalized face to face classroom interactions, e-learning and now on-demand learning with the use of artificial intelligence. Workplace training used to be something that was imposed on employees and it was dreaded by all. However, with increasing globalisation and our lives being disrupted by evolving technologies, lifelong learning has become the only option to stay relevant. Training and developing employees is on the top of the minds of top management and its importance should not be undermined.
“Development is an investment, not an expense”
According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), organisations that offer comprehensive training programmes have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalised training. Employees are the company’s greatest assets and managers and leaders know that developing their employees is key to continued success and growth for the business. The investment in training and development brings about huge returns for the company. Firstly, training is necessary for good old-fashioned skills development, which improves the performance of employees and builds up their confidence in their jobs. Training employees also sends a message to them that you are vested in their future. Employees are more likely to feel valued and be less likely to change employers. It might also mean less turnover for the company and higher staff retention. No one wants to be stuck in a rut, hence training opportunities makes employees feel motivated and happy at work when they are able to develop in their job roles. Higher morale leads to higher productivity and an overall satisfied workforce.
We are increasingly connected to the world of digital information as almost everyone of us own at least 1 mobile device. Devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets are making it easy for us to learn on the go. Half of the world’s population is online and the increase in mobile Internet use means we need to integrate learning as part of our daily lives. Corporate learning is evolving with the trend and companies are moving away from traditional courses where employees attend physical classes and complete routine assessments based on what they have learnt. In a diverse work environment where change is constant, businesses are building continuous learning experiences that can be adapted to individual learning needs, while aligning with the needs of the business. This implies that learning has to be made available anywhere, anytime, at the point of need. This explains why companies are cutting down on traditional classroom training and favoring digital learning.
Digital learning allows for a broader mix of experiences. Each of us has our preferred style of learning and techniques. Some learners are visual learners, others could be auditory learners while there are those who are social learners. Learners find that with digital learning, they could explore a world of resources that caters to their needs. Videos, podcasts, webinars, e-learning modules and interacting with virtual teachers such as chatbots are some of the ways technology has opened up technology to the diverse needs of learners. Learners can interact with the content at their own pace and review materials when necessary to aid understanding. Learning analytics allow for opportunities to perceive the areas that learners are struggling with and tailor personalised learning paths for learning. Doing away with a “one-size-fits-all” approach help learners engage with content, reinforce skills critical for job development and help them actively create rather than passively consume.
In addition, the accessibility of information at the touch of your fingertips means that learners save a great deal of time hunting for information elsewhere. Before the age of digital technologies, a junior employee who is unfamiliar with a business process may seek out a senior employee or his mentor face-to-face for help. This could take hours or days depending on his ability to locate the right person and the availability of that person to guide him at a mutually convenient time. In the present moment, he could easily engage the use of his company’s chatbot to ask the same question and get the answer instantaneously. Such information is available 24/7 and this means employees become self-reliant, less intimidated to seek help and more motivated to learn. For new hires, having an “online mentor” could mean that they take a shorter time to settle down and become productive sooner. Businesses have started to include virtual mentors as part of their on-boarding, recruitment and operations process in order to lessen the workload on human resources so that they can focus on other priorities.
As training and development needs evolve, working professionals are learning to leverage and balance the availability of fast emerging technologies together with social media platforms to engage in collaborative learning experiences without falling into technology traps. Utilizing technology should be part of an on-going learning culture in every organisation and this will ultimately develop every employee into active and interested learners who can push for greater success for the company.
The most important question you need to start thinking about is: How do I design training to build knowledge and translate knowledge to performance?
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